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Chapter 9 Planetary Geology Earth and the Other Terrestrial Worlds.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 9 Planetary Geology Earth and the Other Terrestrial Worlds."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 9 Planetary Geology Earth and the Other Terrestrial Worlds

2 Terrestrial Planet Surfaces How do they compare to one another?

3 Comparison of Planetary Surfaces Mercury & the Moon heavily cratered {scars from the heavy bombardment} some volcanic plains Venus volcanoes and bizarre bulges Mars volcanoes and canyons apparently dry riverbeds {evidence for running water} Earth all of the above plus liquid water and life

4 Inside the Terrestrial Worlds After they have formed, the molten planets differentiate into three zones: core - made of metals mantle - made of dense rock crust - made of less dense rock Lithosphere - the rigid, outer layer of crust & part of the mantle which does not deform easily

5 © 2014 Pearson Education, Inc. Earth's Interior Core: highest density; nickel and iron Mantle: moderate density; silicon, oxygen, etc. Crust: lowest density; granite, basalt, etc.

6 Inside the Terrestrial Worlds active geologyinactive geology

7 © 2014 Pearson Education, Inc. Differentiation Gravity pulls high-density material to center. Lower-density material rises to surface. Material ends up separated by density.

8 © 2014 Pearson Education, Inc. Lithosphere A planet's outer layer of cool, rigid rock is called the lithosphere. It "floats" on the warmer, softer rock that lies beneath.

9 Heating the Terrestrial Worlds Planetary interiors heat up through: accretion differentiation radioactivity Supplies all the heat at the beginning Supplies heat throughout the planet ’ s life

10 Cooling the Terrestrial Worlds Planets cool off through: conduction - heat flowing on the microscopic level convection - heat flowing on the macroscopic level (bulk motions) eruptions - hot lava bursts through crust the larger the planet, the longer it takes to cool off!

11 Cooling the Terrestrial Worlds

12 Magnetic Fields Electric charges moving via convection in a molten iron core and spinning acts like an electromagnet  magnetic field Earth has a magnetic field Venus, Mars, & the Moon do not Mercury surprisingly has a weak magnetic field

13 Shaping Planetary Surfaces Major geological processes that shape planetary surfaces: impact cratering: excavation of surface by asteroids or comets striking the planet volcanism: eruption of lava from interior tectonics: disruption of lithosphere by internal stresses erosion: wearing down by wind, water, ice

14 Impact Cratering objects hit planet at 10 – 70 km/s solid rock is vaporized a crater is excavated matter is ejected in all directions craters are circular –large craters have a central peak

15 Counting Craters to find Surface Age Cratering rate decreased as Solar Systems aged. The older the surface, the more craters are present.

16 Volcanism Underground, molten rock, called magma, breaks through crack in the lithosphere. Trapped gases are released: H 2 O, CO 2, N 2 Viscosity of lava (typically basalt) determines type of volcano

17 Tectonics convection cells in the mantle causes both: compression in lithosphere mountains are produced extension in lithosphere valleys are produced mountains & valleys appear on the surface

18 Erosion movement of rock by ice, liquid, or gas valleys shaped by glaciers canyons carved by rivers sand blown by wind erosion not only wears down features, it also builds them: sand dunes river deltas sedimentary rock

19 How Planetary Properties affect each Process impact cratering # of impacts same for all planets larger planets erase more craters volcanism & tectonics requires interior heat retained longer by large planets erosion requires an atmosphere large size for volcanic outgassing moderate distance from Sun fast rotation needed for wind

20 The Moon (  ) mare younger surface 3 – 4 billion yrs fewer craters dark basalt highlands older surface more craters heavily cratered, no atmosphere, geologically inactive

21 Formation of the Maria The Moon once had a molten interior. Several large impacts made huge crater basins. left cracks in lithosphere below at a later time, molten basalt leaked through the cracks This “runny” lava filled in the basins.

22 Mercury dead planet with no atmosphere has no maria, but small lava plains has fewer craters than the Moon craters are shallower than Moon due to higher gravity on Mercury evidence for tectonic processes evidence for ice at the N pole

23 Volcanism & Tectonics in Mercury’s Past volcanism lava plains are small but they are found all over the planet tectonic stresses 3 km-high cliffs, 100s km long formed when crust contracted no evidence for expansion features implies the entire planet shrunk!

24 Mars mountains & canyons Valles Marineris volcanoes thin atmosphere (CO 2 ) no plate tectonics --- volcanoes are higher evidence for water erosion

25 Mars Olympus Mons the largest volcano in our Solar System it is located atop the Tharsis Bulge along with several other volcanoes Mars has a rotation period & axis tilt almost identical to Earth’s this implies that Mars has seasons look at the ice caps (CO 2 & H 2 O)

26 Four images of Mars in one Martian Day Summer in North, Winter in South N S

27 Ancient Water on Mars Liquid water can not exist on Mars today. temperatures below freezing air pressure too low Dry river channels in southern highlands heavily cratered terrain (> 3 billion years old) Some craters are eroded. implies rainfall crater lakes Mars was warm & wet over 3 billion years ago.

28 Recent Water on Mars? Liquid water could exist temporarily with today’s temperatures and air pressures…in a flash flood! Underground water seeps out to form erosion gullies these gullies were observed on a crater wall at their size, sandstorms would cover them in few million yrs such floods have occurred within the last few million years

29 Martian Blueberries These blueberries are mineral deposits from standing water, scientists speculate.

30 Water on Mars? Recent results from the Mars Odyssey mission evidence for (frozen) water within 1 meter under the surface this underground water is found all over the planet

31 Venus Has a thick, cloudy atmosphere -- you can not visually see the surface we must image the surface using radar smooth plains with few mountain ranges few craters many volcanoes and domes of lava (corona) Venus is very active with tectonics & volcanism

32 Venus Searing heat, heavy pressure, clouds of sulfuric acid, frequent volcanic eruptions; as Carl Sagan said: Venus is the planet most like hell!

33 Volcanism & Tectonics on Venus Impact craters are evenly spread over Venusian surface. implies that the planet’s entire surface is the same age crater counting suggests an age of 1 billion years old Volcanism “paved over” the surface 1 billion years ago. Two types of volcanism are observed shield volcanoes stratovolcanoes

34 Volcanism & Tectonics on Venus The corona is a tectonic feature. rising plume in mantle pushes crust up cause circular stretch marks Plume forces magma to the surface. volcanoes are found nearby

35 Lack of Erosion on Venus No erosion features are seen on Venus. (so far) This means no wind, rain, or ice on the surface. Such a lack of weather can be explained: the surface of Venus is very hot (430 C)… too hot for liquid or ice to exist Venus rotates very slowly (P = 243 days), so no wind is generated

36 10.7 Earth and Geological Destiny In what sense was the geology of each terrestrial world destined from birth? In our Solar System, what geological features are unique to Earth? Our goals for learning:

37 Geological Destiny Impact cratering important early on affects all planets equally Volcanism & Tectonics become dominant later on require internal heat size determines how long a planet remains hot Erosion ultimately dominant requires volcanism for outgassing of atmosphere A planet ’ s fundamental properties determine its geological fate. planet size determines fate

38 Earth -most active geology -volcanoes & tectonics ongoing plate tectonics -moderate atmosphere N 2 O 2 H 2 O -H2O exists in liquid state -rampant erosion -few craters -life

39 What Features are Unique to Earth among the Planets? plate tectonics only planet with a surface shaped by this type of tectonics atmospheric Oxygen only planet with significant Oxygen in its atmosphere surface liquid water only planet where temperature & pressure allow surface water to be stable as a liquid climate stability –differs from Venus & Mars in having a relatively stable climate life –only world known to have life; it certainly has the most abundant & diverse life in the Solar System

40 Plate Tectonics Earth’s lithosphere is fractured into more than a dozen plates. These plates “float” on top of the Earth’s mantle. Convection in the mantle cause the plates (and continents) to move.

41 Earth’s Crust Seafloor crust high-density basalt young (< 200 million yrs) 5 to 10 km thick Continental crust low-density (e.g. granite) older, as much as 4 billion yrs old 20 to 70 km thick Earth has two types of crust:

42 Plate Tectonics New basaltic crust emerges at mid-ocean ridges. it is pushed away in both directions (seafloor spread) Seafloor crust is pushed under continental crust at ocean trenches. this is called subduction, the seafloor crust is partially molten the less dense lava erupts through volcanoes to form new continental crust

43 Geological Features of Plate Tectonics Continents are shaped by: volcanism stresses from plate tectonics erosion Subduction zones cause: volcanic eruptions which form mountain ranges islands to be scraped off seafloor plates onto continents When two continental plates collide one can not subduct under the other crust is pushed up to form mountain ranges e.g. the Himalayas

44 Geological Features of Plate Tectonics When two continental plates pull apart a rift valley is created mantle convection causes eruption of basalt from valley floor a new zone of seafloor spreading is created e.g Arabian peninsula detached from Africa to form the Red Sea When two plates slip sideways against each other rough grinding of plates builds up pressure along the crack between them this crack is called a fault pressure eventually breaks, causing a sudden shift, or earthquake

45 Geological Features of Plate Tectonics Not all volcanoes occur near plate boundaries. a plume of hot mantel rock can rise within a plate we call this a hot spot These hot spot volcanoes form islands as a plate moves over a hot spot, a chain of islands, like Hawaii, is formed without plate tectonics moving the plate, we would have a huge volcano like Olympus Mons on Mars

46 Earth’s Appearance: Past, Present, & Future Plates (and continents) move at 2 cm/year. that’s 2,000 km in 100 million years We can project the motion of continents into the past or future. 200 million years ago all continents were connected into one supercontinent Total continental area has increased with time as new continental crust has formed.

47 What have we learned? Briefly describe how the terrestrial surfaces differ from one another. Mercury and the Moon are heavily cratered with some volcanic plains. Venus has volcanoes and other, stranger features. Mars shows a varied geology, including volcanoes and evidence of running water. Earth shows features similar to all the others, and more. Describe the basic interior structures of the terrestrial worlds. By density: core-mantle-crust. By rock strength, the crust and part of the mantle together make up the rigid lithosphere.

48 What have we learned? How do interiors get hot? Sources of heat at birth are accretion and differentiation. Radio- active decay deposits heat over longer times, though more at early times. Why is planetary size so important to internal heat and geology? Size determines how fast a hot interior cools. Only large planets can maintain significant heat and mantle convection for billions of years. Why is Earth the only terrestrial world with a strong magnetic field? A planetary magnetic field requires an interior layer of electrically conducting fluid, convection of that fluid, and rapid rotation. Only Earth has all three among the terrestrial planets.

49 What have we learned? What are the four basic geological processes? Impact cratering, volcanism, tectonics, and erosion. Describe how each process is connected to fundamental planetary properties. Impact cratering: larger planets more likely to have craters erased by other geological processes. Volcanism and tectonics: require interior heat, retained only by larger planets. Erosion: requires large size before outgassing by volcanism and a mild temperature. A fast rotation can make winds to cause erosion.

50 What have we learned? Describe the geology of the Moon & Mercury. Both are heavily cratered. The Moon’s lava plains are large and localized in the maria, while Mercury’s lava plains are small and globally distributed. Mercury has more tectonic features. Many large cliffs on Mercury appear tectonic in origin. How did the lunar maria form? Large impacts during the heavy bombardment fractured the lithosphere beneath the huge craters they created. A few hundred million years later, heat from radioactive decay melted mantle material, which welled up through the fractures and flooded the craters. Why do we think that Mercury shrank in size when it was young? Long, high cliffs show that Mercury’s surface was compressed, but there are no features to suggest surface expansion.

51 What have we learned? Why did many people once believe that Mars had intelligent beings? Percival Lowell claimed to see canals and popularized the idea they were made by intelligent beings. The canals do not really exist. Describe general features of the four geological processes on Mars. A dramatic difference in crater crowding on different parts of the surface. Numerous tall volcanoes, and the large Tharsis Bulge. The huge canyon of Valles Marineris, shaped at least in part by tectonics. Abundant evidence of water erosion. What evidence suggests a past warm and wet period on Mars? Surfaces dating to older than 3 billion years appear to have been eroded by rainfall.

52 What have we learned? What evidence suggests more recent water flows on Mars? Some younger regions of Mars appear to have suffered catastrophic floods between 1 to 3 billion years ago small. Small gullies suggest far more recent water flows at or near the surface. How do we study the surface of Venus? Radar observations from spacecraft. What happened to Venus about a billion years ago? Its entire surface was apparently repaved by some combination of volcanism and tectonics.

53 What have we learned? Why isn’t there much erosion on Venus? Its rotation is too slow to produce weather, despite its thick atmosphere. Is Venus still geologically active? Probably, but we have no direct proof. In our Solar System, what geological features are unique to Earth? Plate tectonics and rampant, ongoing erosion.

54 What have we learned? In what sense was the geology of each terrestrial world destined from birth? Size is the key factor, as it determines how long volcanism and tectonics continue. Size is also necessary to erosion, since terrestrial atmospheres come from volcanic outgassing.


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